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Come explore with us! You and your students are invited to visit any one of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute’s four visitor sites: Barro Colorado Island, Punta Culebra Nature Center, Bocas del Toro Research Station and Punta Galeta Marine Laboratory. Discover the amazing plants and animals of the tropical rainforest, and learn about the science behind the scenes that is helping to reveal the many wonders of life in the tropics.

One goal at STRI is to inspire curiosity and wonder about the natural world through the lens of science. We offer school groups field trips to our nature center and research stations. Students learn about the wildlife in their own backyard through hands-on educational activities and guided tours. Our activities are designed to complement and reinforce the science education students are receiving in the classroom.

Professional Development Workshops

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI)

STRI offers professional development workshops that are taught by a team of scientists and science educators. The workshops are designed to provide an intensive science-rich experience for science teachers in Panama. Participating teachers engage in scientific practices that deepen their understanding of evolution, tropical ecology and biodiversity. They also learn practical ways to teach concepts and explore activities suitable for students at a variety of grade levels.

The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) offers annual professional development workshops taught by a team of scientists and science educators.  The workshops are designed to provide an intensive science rich experience for pre-service and in-service science teachers in Panama. Participating teachers engage in scientific practices that deepen their understanding of evolution, tropical ecology and biodiversity. They also learn practical ways to teach concepts and explore activities suitable for students at a variety of grade levels.  

Format

The one- to two-week workshops are organized around science themes, which vary each year. The format includes lectures by Smithsonian scientists and educators, visits to exhibitions and labs, and field trips. A workshop takes place at one of our four public outreach facilities.

Locations

Workshops take place in our facilities, including Punta Culebra Nature Center in Panama City, Punta Galeta Marine Laboratory in Colon, Barro Colorado in the Panama Canal and Bocas del Toro Research Station in Bocas del Toro province.

Meduca Accreditation and Standards

STRI is recognized as an official trainer by the Ministry of Education in Panama (MEDUCA). We link all our educational content to the standards of the formal education system, including the Panamanian National Curriculum and U.S. Next Generation Science Standards.

Contact

For information on workshops at our different facilities contact:

Bocas Research Station

Plinio Góndola
gondolap@si.edu

Punta Culebra Nature Center

Jimena Pitty
pittyjj@si.edu

Punta Galeta Marine Laboratory

Dr. Stanley Heckadon
heckados@si.edu

Teaching Resources

The activities and web links below are designed to support your science teaching in the classroom. All content is developed by professional educators and reviewed by scientists for accuracy.

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI)

Fabulous Frogs of Panama

Here you will find several inquiry-based lesson plans about Panamanian amphibians that fit into a standard science curriculum. You can use them as stand-alone activities, or as an introduction to the amphibian exhibits at Punta Culebra Nature Center in Panama City. The exhibits display many frog species native to Panama in replicas of their natural habitat, and feature ongoing research and conservation efforts in Panama. These activities encompass a variety of age and ability levels, and introduce students to key concepts covering natural history, the amphibian life cycle, and conservation. Please check the drop-down menu that says “Education” for a list of these activities.

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI)

Science takes wings

In cooperation with Audubon Arizona and Arizona State University we created a fun bird identification game for learners of all ages.  Learn the songs of 10 common birds found in Panama.  Then head outside to discover how many of the birds you can hear in your own backyard or nearby park or green space. 

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI)

Desert to rainforest

Desert to Rainforest is a middle school learning experience for diverse cultures and habitats in Arizona and Panama. This curriculum was originally created for school groups in Arizona and Panama. It aims to teach middle school children about deserts and tropical rainforests, the unique plant and animal diversity found in each ecosystem, and how organisms have adapted to life in these very distinct environments. Feel free to adapt and use in your own classrooms! 

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI)

The Forest Speaks

The Forest Speaks is an online exhibit at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama. Visitors to our tropical forest research station on Barro Colorado Island expect to enter a lush jungle where monkeys drip from the trees, colorful frogs hop down the paths as ocelots lurk behind orchid-covered trees. These animals are here, but to find them and to understand the intricate workings of their tropical forest home takes a lot of careful observation. In this web version of our Visitor's Center exhibit, you will find examples of our research projects, our methods and our exciting results as well as a brief history of STRI in Panama.

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